Shrinking prostates without surgery

Benign prostatic hyperplasia, BPH, affects about half of men over age 60.

It happens when the prostate becomes enlarged. Often, the condition results in a host of unpleasant symptoms.

Until now, drugs and invasive surgeries were the only solutions, but now we are learning there is a new way doctors are shrinking prostates.

Ron Simmons spends most of his free time on the back of his Harley.

However, a few months ago, long rides were too painful for this 68-year-old.

Simmons says, "It was uncomfortable. It wasn't enjoyable."

He has BPH, an enlarged prostate.

"Most of my problems were going to the bathroom. You know, trying to urinate, that was difficult," Simmons said.

Medications stopped working and the only other option was an invasive surgery to cut or ablate the prostate. It could cause side effects like sexual dysfunction or urinary incontinence.

Georgetown Doctor James Spies offered Ron something new, a non-surgical procedure called prostatic artery embolization.

Dr. Spies says, "We put a catheter, a very thin tube into the artery that feeds the prostate gland."

Then, doctors inject tiny beads, called microspheres, in the arteries surrounding the prostate to block its blood supply.

Dr. Spies says, "It decreases the size of the prostate and more importantly relieves the obstruction of urinary flow."

Ron was just the second patient at Georgetown to have the procedure. The relief was immediate, and he is even planning a 10,000-mile ride this summer!

Simmons says, "There's so many more things I can do today because of that prostate."

For the clinical trial, patients have to have a prostate between 50 and 100 grams and be between ages 50 and 90 years old.

Doctor spies also stresses that this is not a treatment for prostate cancer-only an enlarged prostate.


TOPIC: Shrinking Prostates Without Surgery
REPORT: MB #3793

BACKGROUND: An enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) affects about half of men over 60 years old, and 90 percent of men in their 70's and 80's, according to the National Institutes of Health. It is not a life-threatening condition but it can negatively affect your lifestyle. The symptoms include difficulty urinating, more frequent and urgent urination especially at night and a weak urine flow.

TREATMENTS: Treatment for BPH can include drug therapy or partial removal or the prostate through the urethat in the penis. This is called the TURP procedure or removal of the prostate through an open abdominal operation. According to a University of Maryland study, doctors aren't sure exactly what causes benign prostatic hyperplasia. But, they think the changes that occur with male sex hormones as part of the aging process could play a role in the prostate gland enlargement. (Source:

NEW TECHNOLOGY: Prostate artery embolization is a minimally invasive procedure that injects small beads into the arteries surrounding the prostate. The beads then block the prostate's blood supply. Then, the prostate begins to shrivel and shrink. The patient typically stays in the hospital for one night and can go back to regular activities within several days. According to doctors at Georgetown University, studies from other countries show that the procedure is effective in most men and injuries to other structures are rare. Dr. Spies says, "Ron Simmons is the second person to have the procedure at Georgetown. There are others treated in other centers, but this is very new and there are very few patients treated in the United States." The procedure does have risks. A clinical study is looking at the safety to make sure there are no injuries to the bladder or rectum since they are close to the prostate. The study is also researching the severity of symptoms before and for five years after the procedure.


Angela White
Medstar Georgetown University Hospital
Office: 202-444-6825

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas

MB #3793
JUN '14

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
WNDU - Channel 16 54516 State Road 933 South Bend, IN 46637 Front Desk: 574-284-3000 Newsroom: 574-284-3016 Email:
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 262921771 -